Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School - Elementary School Favorites

Being an elementary school kid in the '90s was pretty great. We had Lisa Frank, Harry Potter, Sailor Moon, and Pokemon, just to name a handful of pop culture phenomena of the day. And back-to-school shopping was the best because there was always a plethora of notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks, lunch boxes, and pretty much everything else under the sun sporting your favorite characters so you could show off your obsessions to all your friends. It was like being involved in fandom life before any of us even knew what fandom was. My absolute favorite part of each new school year was going to registration and getting my school supplies list, which was always color coded by what grade you were going into. My dad would usually take me to Office Depot or Walmart afterward and let me go to town in the back-to-school aisles. (Does anyone else remember the school bus stickers they'd put on the floor to lead you to the school supplies section? Is that still a thing? Because it totally should be.)

Of course there were other great things to look forward to in elementary school, especially if you were a bookworm. Library day was the highlight of my week, and throughout the year there was always the  Scholastic Book Fairs and monthly catalogs. There was nothing like getting a brand spanking new Scholastic catalog to take home and mark up to my little heart's desire (only to have my parents tell me that no, I could not order the entire catalog).

Yup, being a '90s kid was pretty awesome. So in honor of the back-to-school topic this week, I'm giving a rundown of some of my favorite books from my elementary school days.

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: Obviously Harry has to be at the top of the list! I will be forever grateful to my third grade teacher for reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to our class and introducing me to the one book series that's had the greatest impact on my life--even though she messed up one small detail. To this day, my mom teases me about how for a year I insisted Hermione's name was pronounced Her-mee-own, because that's how my teacher pronounced it, and obviously teachers are never wrong. Duh, Mom. (Judging by the running joke J.K. Rowling slipped into Goblet of Fire about Viktor Krum having difficulty pronouncing Her-my-oh-knee, I'd venture a guess that I wasn't the only one with this problem.)

2. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner: Come to think of it, third grade was a pretty great year of reading for me because I was also introduced to The Boxcar Children series. We did a whole unit on it in school, and I went on to read the rest of the books on my own. I think I checked out every one my school library had.

3. Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson: I don't remember much about this series other than the fact that it was about a dog who worked as a "sheriff" on a ranch, and I breezed through the books because I thought they were totally hilarious.

4. The Jewel Kingdom series by Jahnna N. Malcolm: The Jewel Kingdom is a series about four sisters (all princesses) who are each given their own kingdoms represented by--you guessed it--different types of jewels. There's Demetra, the Diamond Princess; Emily, the Emerald Princess; Serena, the Sapphire Princess; and Roxanne, the Ruby Princess. Each book focused on a different princess and her animal friend and their adventures throughout the various kingdoms. These books hold a special place in my heart because of how I interacted with them. At the time, my best friend and I were so in love with these books that pretty much every time we went over to each other's house, we would "play Jewel Princesses." Basically, we'd get dressed up in old Halloween or dance recital costumes and just play pretend, each of us choosing one of the princesses to be. We would create new characters and storylines and spend hours playing in that make-believe world.

5. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: Walk Two Moons is one of the first books I remember enjoying not so much for the story (though I did love the story) but for the writing itself. I remember reading it out loud in the car to my grandma because I just loved the way the words sounded. I ended up reading a lot more of Sharon Creech's books throughout elementary and middle school.

6. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar: The ridiculous situations in these books cracked me up as a kid, and honestly, they're still pretty funny today.

7. Holes by Louis Sachar: Pretty sure that this was a staple for all elementary school kids of the late '90s/early 2000s. A note to future generations of elementary and middle schoolers who will read this book: ignore the Shia LaBeouf movie. Just read the book.

8. The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dadey: The Bailey School Kids books were just as funny as the Wayside School books, but with a touch of spookiness. My love for these books probably explains my later obsession with YA paranormal romance. Clearly I had a thing for the supernatural even as a little kid.

9. The Royal Diaries/Dear America series (various authors): I went through a phase toward the end of elementary school and through middle school where I loved historical fiction. I devoured the Royal Diaries series (during one trip to the library, I checked out every copy they had available, which was probably around ten books!). The ones that really stuck with me were Marie Antoinette and Sondok. I think what I liked most about the series was getting to read about different cultures and time periods.

10. Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: I think I was in first or second grade when my grandma got me the box set of the Little House books, and they're some of the first longer chapter books I remember reading on my own. Little House in the Big Woods was always my favorite because the way Laura Ingalls Wilder described life in the cabin in the woods sounded so cozy! It made me want to live in a log cabin too.

So, any of my fellow '90s kids remember these books? What were some of your own favorites?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

#TheReadingQuest Challenge

banner by CW of Read, Think, Ponder

Hey, all! So ... long time no blog! Life has been pretty busy the past six months, but I'm finally hopping back on board the blogging train, and lucky for me, it just happens to coincide with this super awesome reading challenge that I hope will inspire me to blog more (and get back on track toward my 2017 Goodreads goal). 

If you haven't heard, Aentee of Read at Midnight has created #TheReadingQuest, a video game-style reading challenge that runs between August 13 and September 10. I'm absolutely blown away by the creativity that went into making this challenge, and I'm so excited to participate! For more info on the challenge, check out Aentee's sign-up post.

You can choose from four character classes to start your quest, and given that I've been on a serious fantasy kick of late, I'm starting out as the Mage.

artwork by CW of Read, Think, Ponder

As a Mage, I'll be starting with the First Down quest path. In no particular order, here are the books I'll be reading for my main quest (I've included the format as well since point distribution varies depending on pages read versus minutes of listening).

Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Format: e-book

Not gonna lie––98 percent of the reason why I downloaded the "box set" of this series from Kindle is the gorgeous cover art. But the story sounds awesome too: magic and libraries––what more could you ask for?

The Waking Land by Callie Bates
Format: hardcover

How pretty is this cover? The Waking Land sounds like a fantasy with a more subdued plot, but magical nonetheless, so it'll serve as a nice break from all the angst, drama, and action of some of the other books in my TBR.

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
Format: e-book/audio

I've seen a lot of people on Tumblr comparing Rhapsodic to A Court of Mist and Fury, so I'm looking forward to this one a lot! (I'm not totally sure that this fits into the mythology category, though. I think it might be based on the Hades/Persephone myth, but if you've read it, let me know if I'm wrong.)

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Format: hardcover

This'll be cutting it close to the end of the challenge since I'm not getting my copy of ToD until September 7 at the SJM tour event, but I just had to include it! 

Roar by Cora Carmack
Format: hardcover

Roar's summary is giving me some serious Throne of Glass/Aelin Galathynius vibes. Bring it on!

If any of you are doing the challenge as well, let me know which character class you've chosen and what you plan on reading!